Thursday, June 12, 2008

Megan Hustad

Megan Hustad is a former book editor, former bookstore manager, current freelance writer, and the author of How to Be Useful: A Beginner's Guide to Not Hating Work.

Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I've been on fire lately -- or just extraordinarily lucky to pick up a series of books that socked me. Books generous in their judgments, imbued with patience for flawed characters and other fools, but never saccharine, or -- far worse, in my mind -- willfully naive. Their generosity is all the more remarkable because that l-o-v-e is coupled with a fierce, unblinking intelligence. In their own way, they're all works of highly refined moral sensibilities, but as I type that I realize it makes the lot sound twee and dull and sanctimonious, which they're decidedly not, so I'll shut up and get to the list:

Zadie Smith's On Beauty. It's been reviewed everywhere, so I'll spare you a recap and say only that she made me a believer with this one.

Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage. This came recommended by a friend, and it wasn't until p. 78 that I figured out why. From time to time you hear an author referred to as a "writers' writer," and it always struck me as a smug, damning charge. (A sure path to topping out at 4,000 copies net!) Dyer may be a writers' writer, and Out of Sheer Rage may be a writers' book. But few contemporary authors can make me wait for it, and wait for it, and get so irritated with him or her that I audibly scoff, and then finally, starting at the bottom of p. 224, and through the end (p. 232, so not long), swallow whole a rousing affirmation of...well, read it. I was smiling for days afterward.

Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste. A Toronto rock critic and snob immerses himself in a study of Celine Dion, emerges a better man.

Next up, if I can get my hands on it, a $60 coffee table book about the Heidelberg Project in Detroit.
Read an excerpt from How to Be Useful, and learn more about the book and author at Megan Hustad's website.

--Marshal Zeringue